1. paul fisher
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    paul fisher New Member

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    prologues needed in serialized novels

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by paul fisher, Jan 11, 2016.

    So if you write a novel as a serialization, would you have just one prologue in the first part or in each, or not at all until a complete work is done ?
    i also assume that you'd need an overall story arc that would cover an entire novel and each serial part would need it's own sub-plot but still be part of the whole ?
     
  2. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I was wondering this too, so maybe someone can answer for the both of us.
    I didn't intend to write a prologue for Book 2 (or Book 1 for that matter.) But events in Book 1, have bearing on Book 2. As I wrote Book 2, I kept thinking,
    "In order to fully understand this scene, the reader needs to know what happened in Book 1." I've been putting the information directly in the text, but it makes for long scenes as the MC recounts an experience.

    Example
    MC visits the grave of a person she killed and feels some emotions. To just have the emotions, without knowing that she was the one to kill the person in Book 1 would be confusing.

    I was wondering if a simple synopsis of Book 1 would be appropriate, just to get the reader up to speed. Then I could cut a lot of words out of the text and make the novel more concise.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
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  3. paul fisher
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    paul fisher New Member

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    I'm thinking if I don't find out anywhere, I may just go with a prologue in the first part and an epilogue in the final instalment.

     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure I'm understanding the question.

    Like, you don't need a prologue or an epilogue for any part of your story - they're not mandatory parts of fiction. I certainly don't think it would make sense to have a prologue for each book, not unless there was some larger structural issue you were trying to address. (Like, if your overall story was tracking a series of characters who shared a traumatic event long in the past, with one character for each book, then I can see having a prologue for each book showing that character's role in the past trauma. But... not just as a general thing).

    The last part of your post seems to be touching on the difference between a serial and a series. A serial is a single story broken up into parts. It's been a long time since I read it, but I think the Lord of the Rings trilogy would fit this - the story just kind of stops at the end of each book, rather than anything being wrapped up. But a bunch of books that share an overarching setting and probably characters, but that have independent plots for each book, would be a series.
     
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  5. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    If Book 2 is obviously Book 2, it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect readers to have already read Book 1. If I was coming to the second book of a series cold, I don't think I'd be surprised if there were things I didn't entirely get, nor would I hold it against the author. I can quite understand them wanting me to also buy Book 1.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But do you need a whole prologue for that? It seems to me that you could get that information into the scene with an extra three or four words.

    Edited to add: OK, one extra sentence. For example:

    Jane bowed her head, thinking about the wasted life represented by the little grave.

    goes to

    Jane bowed her head, thinking about the wasted life represented by the little grave. She touched the top of the stone and whispered, "Sorry. But you had it coming."
     
  7. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    That's what I've been doing. The example I gave was rather simplistic. Other issues I've run into require a paragraph or more of explanation. I was just musing over how many words could be cut by not have to explain so many things.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm curious as to what things require a paragraph of explanation. Maybe they do, of course, but maybe you're underestimating the reader's intelligence and/or overestimating how much the reader demands that they immediately be able to understand?
     
  9. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    One Example of more than one . . .

    Book 2 opens with a wizard wanting to plot the MC's escape and wanting her to catch up with a party that she was
    previously traveling with. She refuses and instead has devised a plane to evade her death sentence, elude the wizard and slip off with a foreign dignitaries from the third country. The reader should know why she refuses as well as why she has been sentenced to death. If they read Book 1 they would have that information, if not they think, "She doesn't want to go; what's the big deal?"

    Basic's of the last chapter of book 1:
    That party in question is comprised of her lover, her lover's cousin, her lover's uncle, and two others, plus the wizards brother. The man she killed was her lover's great-uncle; he drugged her and her lover's uncle--the end result was a rape--because he wanted the lover's uncle to be the one to produce an heir, not the lover. (The uncle refused to pursue her earlier in the story or try to run off his nephew, stating that he was happy for the pair of them and would be glad when they wed.) Which is why the great-uncle resorted to drugs. They weren't in their own country when the rape occurred, but visiting another King and involved in three party negotiations over a trade deal. In that country mixed race unions are forbidden. He felt the bad behavior of the foreign dignitaries was a disgrace and embarrassment to him. He brought them to trial, but not wanting to risk open war with their country by killing all of them, asked her to choose one of them to die. She choose her lovers great-uncle and killed him herself. At that point the King said the company needed to leave his kingdom immediately, but held her prisoner, because if she were found to be with child, she would be put to death; an unfortunate consequence of mixing of races being forbidden. The terms of her confinement were that she would remain under guard for four weeks. If she had her period she would be free, if not, she would be killed. She did not menstruate when she was "supposed to," but obviously did not tell the King or the wizard. To make matters worse she doesn't know who the child belongs to--her lover, her lovers uncle, or her lovers cousin (there was one drunken evening after the harvest festival . . .)

    Which is why she doesn't want to return to them and how she ended up with a death sentence.

    I think it's a bit two convoluted to distil down to a sentence or two. I've spun it out peace-meal in Chapter 1 of Book 2, but I felt like I was just re-hashing book 1. And if that is the case, why not just include a synopsis at the beginning? (Dare I say the word Prologue???) That way anyone who picks up book 2 before reading book 1 won't be horribly confused and I can condense a bunch of the chapters.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    She shook her head. "No, thank you. I don't think that works for me."
    He puffed out an exasperated breath. "A journey that might save you from a sentence of death doesn't work for you? What, are you concerned about the quality of the springs on the coaches, or the catering?"
    She smiled sweetly at him. No, you wand-waving narcissist, I'm declining to travel with three men, any of whom might be the father of my child. "The dinner conversation. Excuse me, I need to get back to my cell. The rats worry." She swept past him and toward the guards, before he could form a response.


    Sorry, I couldn't resist.
     
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  11. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I like your phrase "wand-waving narcissist" so much that I almost wish my wizard had a wand, but alas, she does not.

    Unable to resist - - - Yeah. Clearly that information needs to make it's way into the readers hands is some form. The question is what is the best way to go about it? Spin it out in bits and pieces in the text as I have been doing, or include a synapsis of book 1? Or simply hope they read book 1?
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I vote for sneaking it in in bits and pieces. Remember that the reader doesn't really need to know everything. She's pregnant, she's a prisoner, and she's escaping--that's plenty to start with. They don't need to know how it all happened right away.
     
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  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with @BayView .

    If it's a series, read book 1, then book 2, etc.

    If it's a sequence of books that feature the same character (e.g., James Bond) leave it out...that sequence at the start of On Her Majesty's Secret Service was so tacky. I've read books where the author sticks in something like "...it was reminiscent of his time in Tangiers (That Business with Tangerines...Hodder & Stoughton 1965)..." Uggh!
     
  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I vote for sneaking it in, too.

    You've spent a whole book making people care about and understand your characters' situations. Anything you can summarize into a prologue is going to be surface-level and unsatisfying and will not do service to the richness of the story you built in the first book.

    You can sneak it in as @ChickenFreak showed, in ways that enhance your current story and characterization rather than minimizing the impact of the previous story.
     
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